I have written several times in the past about turnkey solutions being deployed by some telecommunications companies, notably Alcatel-Lucent, to extend the mobile telecommunications network in the absence of an established electricity source. Now, two World Economic Forum technology pioneers--Vihaan Networks Ltd. and Boston-Power--are testing a similar solution that is powered by solar energy.
The technology, called the VNL WorldGSM base station, can offer communications services for up to three days in the absence of solar energy. (That's where the Boston-Power technology kicks in, to act as an energy storage mechanism for the base station.) The solution is being targeted at emerging markets with large populations of rural residents who live outside the reach of traditional mobile networks, such as VNL's home country of India.
Tests of WorldGSM using the Boston-Power lithium-ion technology are under way already, with larger deployments planned for later in 2011. Boston-Power's products are being used in a wide variety of applications, from notebook batteries to the storage for Saab's first electric vehicle.
I found this development compelling because its another example of how renewable energy sources, teamed up with right storage technologies, could serve many different sorts of applications that will help offset electricity usage in small but profound ways. Given the explosion of wireless communications and mobility all over the world, solutions such as this base station should find eager adoption.